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Psychol Rev. 2001 Jan;108(1):83-95.

Do infant rats cry?

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Department of Psychology, Program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


In the current revival of interest in the emotional and mental lives of animals, many investigators have focused attention on mammalian infants that emit distress vocalizations when separated from the home environment. Perhaps the most intensively studied distress vocalization is the ultrasonic vocalization of infant rats. Since its discovery, this vocalization has been interpreted both as a communicatory signal for the elicitation of maternal retrieval and as the manifestation of emotional distress. In contrast, the authors examined the cardiovascular causes and consequences of the vocalization, and on the basis of this work, they hypothesized that the vocalization is the acoustic by-product of the abdominal compression reaction (ACR), a maneuver that results in increased venous return to the heart. Therefore, the vocalization may be analogous to a sneeze, serving a physiological function while incidentally producing sound.

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